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just when things couldn’t get any worse…

By A. M. Harte, editor, author of Theatre of Horrors

Sep 28, 2009: As it says on the tin, this is a blogfic about the end of the world. Faith, a normal girl who works in a bookstore, has her life turned upside-down when an odd explosion of sorts burns the sky into a dull orange, creating acid rain, collapsing buildings, and more.

At first, firefighters are there, trying to help, trying to take people to the hospital, but things society is on the verge of collapse, and Faith ends up leading a group on foot to the hospital, navigating crumbling buildings and vicious raids by desperate people. But things aren’t as expected, and the more Faith travels, the more she realizes that the whole world she used to know is gone. And, clearly, just when you think things couldn’t get worse, something else goes wrong!

The setting is vivid, evocative; I got a strong sense of crumbling buildings, abandoned vehicles, blood, gore, sickness, death. The prison scene was particularly spooky.

The writing is solid, extremely so, conversational in tone and written in the typical voyeuristic diary-entry style, making the events incredibly real and hard-hitting. It really adds to the realism that the entry dates on the blog match up with the timeline in the story.

As a matter of fact, it’s so well-written, so dark, disturbing, and emotional, that I had to stop reading. I made it through 8 out of the 13 parts (quite a lot: it took me about a day to read). But when zombies and illness came strongly into play, I began to feel too queasy to continue, which is annoying, because I want to know what happens next, but can’t stomach reading more!

A couple of comments:

  1. The story begins before the end of the world, chronicling Faith’s life and relationship struggles (i.e. being dumped). While this helps build Faith’s character, I found it a slow beginning. I think it could have been more powerful to begin with a bang, with the end of the world, and have readers learn about Faith as they go along.

  2. There could be more character descriptions in the story. A general impression of people’s size is given, but I found it difficult to summon up an image of the characters. I wasn’t even entirely clear on the MC’s age. It doesn’t help that, initially, all the characters were introduced in one long blog post, which immediately slipped from my mind, so I had to check back now and then to cross-reference who Faith was talking about until I got my head around everyone’s names.

  3. As a reader, I found it incredibly frustrating that nothing is explained until much later in the story (which I didn’t get to). Why did the world end? Where did the zombie sickness come from, and the acid rain? While leaving out these answers makes sense, because the MC doesn’t know them herself, I was often thrown out of the story a couple times because I couldn’t help but question a turn of events.

As for the website itself? I found the colour scheme a little odd, although perhaps it was fitting considering the setting. I also thought the link leading on to the next entry could have been more visible, as it’s quite small. But I thought it was a nice touch to add a theme song to every entry. It wasn’t something I made use of, as I was racing through the chapters, but I imagine it’d be quite interesting for readers who are up-to-date with the story.

On that note, new readers should probably take note that there is a lot of reading ahead of them if they want to catch up. The blog entries started in December 2008, and it took me a day of solid reading to get to through ‘til May 2009.

Overall, a stomach-turning, dark and disturbing read. Recommended for the non-queasy reader who loves doom and gloom galore.

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